9+ Common Cashier Theft Techniques


Cashier theft is one of the most common problems in retail. The consequence of this crime can be really high for the company. This article will describe how to identify cashier theft techniques.

Cashiers are generally in contact with shoppers in close proximity, making it difficult to see when they steal merchandise or give themselves discounts. If you suspect that your cashier is stealing from you, then you need to train them more thoroughly on what constitutes a transaction and what acts as a violation of policy.

There are several techniques that cashiers can use to steal from customers. These techniques range from the simple to the more complex and usually involve collusion on some level with a fellow staff member, but sometimes they are performed alone.

Loss Prevention Breakdown: Employee Caught Stealing Cash From Register

Below are the top seven theft techniques:

#1. Giving the wrong change

top seven theft techniques

One method is to give change back that is not the same as what was given. For example, if a customer gives you a $10 bill and purchases something that costs $1, you may pretend to find only a $5 and pass it back. This works best when transactions occur quickly, and customers do not check their change too carefully or compare it to what they received from the teller.

#2. Take a higher amount of change back

Another method is to take a higher amount of change back, such as $9 instead of $7. In this instance, you would pretend the total was just under the amount that requires a tax or give back all bills and then say something like “oops” when giving them their change. This is slightly riskier but still relatively easy to get away with.

#3. Use of counterfeit bills

counterfeit money example

One common theft technique used by cashiers involves the use of counterfeit bills. An unwitting customer will give a $20 note or higher that is not real. An unsuspecting cashier may not know what they are doing and give the customer back their original money without realizing these counterfeit bills. Check out how to spot fake $100 bills and how to spot fake $20 bills.

#4. Substituting a bill with an equal denomination note

Another technique is to substitute a bill with an equal denomination note when capturing the bill amount; for example, if you give the customer a $20 saying it’s real, but it’s fake, and they catch you say, “oh, there must have been a substitution error.”

#5. Not ringing up some items

Sometimes tellers will not ring up things that were supposed to be, or someone will say those items were never scanned. For example, a customer wants to buy a candy bar for 50 cents, but the cashier does not ring it up to use it as a “gift.” The cost of this may be shifted onto each other undeserving customers or store management not realizing that it’s not being used as a gift. This can be called gap theft or sliding.

#6. Deliberate miscounting

Cashiers can also use deliberate miscounting to steal money from the cash register, or they may keep personal objects found during bagging to “find” them later and return them for store credit. They may also remove items that should be charged but are not charged. For example, if a customer puts a pack of gum on the counter and the teller scans it, they may remove it before giving back any change.

#7. Forming a conspiracy

Cashiers can also be part of a conspiracy as well as theft as a group. In these cases, usually, one person will ring things up at a total price while the others do not give them to customers. This is generally done by a cashier at the till and one of the baggers.

#. Covering barcodes

official receipt on white surface

Cashiers can cover the barcode and don’t scan the item.

Other cashier theft techniques

The art of jacking

  • It is possible to get free merchandise from deli scales in some stores, using a successful technique known as “the art of jacking.” This occurs when a customer requests that their items be weighed for freshness on the scale used in the deli department. Typically, the teller will place and remove items from this scale and press a button to activate it.

The key is for the customer to distract the cashier while another person places an item on or near the scale without them noticing, thus tricking it into thinking that an item has been placed on it. In most jacking cases, meat is used, as it is the only deli item with weight (the scale is set at one pound).

Counterfeit coupons

  • Other schemes include using counterfeit coupons or stealing them from the store files. Cashiers may also overcharge for items by putting incorrect price tags on them. This can be done by marking up prices of products that are already on sale or marking down prices of things that are not on sale. In this way, the “markup” or “markdown” is not visible to customers who do not closely compare their receipts to store advertising.

cashier theft techniques

Pocketing change

  • In addition, cashiers may pocket a customer’s change instead of ringing it up as a sale and give back incorrect change so they can keep the difference without having to find an excuse. By doing this, they can take anywhere from a few cents to several dollars every time the customer comes in and buys something simple like a candy bar or newspaper.

Credit for returned items

  • Cashiers may also give credit for returned items instead of refunding the money back on store credit cards. They will usually do this by giving back cash, a check, or a gift card for the exact amount.

Adding additional items

  • Other techniques include adding additional items to a purchase transaction for personal use or resale without notifying the customer or charging an excessive amount of money for purchases that require coupons to be used. For example, suppose you want to buy three candy bars at 50 cents each and one magazine for $2.00, and the cashier rings up all four items together.

You scan your $5 coupon, saving 50 cents on each candy bar and $1 on the magazine, so you only pay $3 instead of $4 even though there is a limit of one magazine per purchase transaction. It’s also possible to generate money by selling stolen gift cards and credit cards.

Collecting sensitive information

  • There are also schemes where a cashier can collect sensitive information from customers, such as their bank account number or social insurance number. They may ask for this to complete certain transactions or receipts. The cashier can then use this information for other illegal activities, such as creating fake credit cards using the customer’s identity.


Cashier theft can be reduced by limiting the number of trust tellers are given because they have access to money, not counting it quickly enough, or personally receiving several customers’ payments at once. Another way to combat this is by using computerized tills, which reduce collision between tellers who are bagging and those who are at the till.

Overhead cameras, which show what the cashier is doing, how much money they are taking in, and whether they are bagging items, also help reduce employee teller theft. Many retail outlets require their staff to work with a buddy who constantly observes their fellow cashier. The cashier may not leave the register or lean on the counter for any reason.

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